Just as the Court of Appeal is the final appellate court in Malta in civil matters, the Court of Criminal Appeal is the final court of appeal in criminal matters.
When composed of three Judges (Court of Criminal Appeal – Superior Jurisdiction), this Court hears appeals by the party convicted from decisions (verdict and/or sentence passed) of the Criminal Court. It also hears appeals, entered either by the accused or by the Attorney General, from preliminary decisions given by the Criminal Court on preliminary pleas and pleas on the admissibility of evidence.
When composed of one Judge (Court of Criminal Appeal – Inferior Jurisdiction) it hears appeals from decisions of the Court of Magistrates (Malta) and of the Court of Magistrates (Gozo) in all criminal matters. With the extension in 2003 of the right of appeal of the Attorney General, the work of the Court of Criminal Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction) has increased considerably. This is shown by the number of cases decided each year from 2002 to 2011 (with a peak reached in 2009): 2002 - 268 cases, 2003 - 316, 2004 - 250, 2005 - 344, 2006 - 379, 2007 - 432, 2008 - 404, 2009 - 519, 2010 - 362 and 2011 - 355.
Whereas the Court of Appeal (Superior Jurisdiction) sits only in Malta, the Court of Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction) sits also in Gozo when hearing appeals from the Court of Magistrates (Gozo).
The Judges ordinarily sitting in the Court of Criminal Appeal are the Chief Justice together with the Hon. Mr Justice David Scicluna and the Hon. Mr Justice Joseph Zammit McKeon. The Judges ordinarily sitting, separately, in the Court of Criminal Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction) are the Hon. Mr Justice David Scicluna, the Hon. Mr Justice Michael Mallia, the Hon. Mr Justice Lawrence Quintano and the Chief Justice. When the Chief Justice abstains or is otherwise precluded from hearing a case, another Judge is subrogated in place of the Chief Justice as Acting President of this court.